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Thread: Photographing Masquerade Ball - advice / hints appreciated!

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    Member SusanJ's Avatar
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    Photographing Masquerade Ball - advice / hints appreciated!

    Hi, I hav an opportunity to photograph a masquerade ball this weekend and as I am only in the early stages of my course I would greatly appreciate some advice / hints on how I can prepare for this great opportunity. I've been taking photos for a while now as a hobby but nothing too serious - photography is my passion and I hope one day to make a career of it. I have a canon 7d + 430 exII speedflash + 50mm 1.8, 15-85mm, 55-250mm lens. Which lens' / equip would be most beneficial to take. I am gathering it will be in a function hall - dark with lights and i hav been told there will also be a rough backdrop up for posed pics too. Some advice to help me prepare would be great. Nervous but excited as this is the first public / function I have done since starting the course. All in the aide of experience and practice. Really appreciate your feedback. Thanks so much.

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    With respect!

    If they have not hired a professional photographer to do this job and you are the event photographer, I would politely decline.

    If they do have a professional photographer, and you are just doing it as practice/experience, then you could enjoy it. However, I think you have left it way to late to find out what is needed and get in enough practice to do the photos justice. You should have been asking these questions weeks ago and practising, practising, practising.

    I would use the speed light, bounced off the ceiling, either the 50mm (depending on room size) or the 15-85. Not knowing if you have any experience with manual mode, I would suggest Av mode, and an aperture of around f4-f8, and let the camera work out shutter speed etc. But to be frank, if you do not know what settings to use this close to the event, then you probably should be learning more from your course, this website, and elsewhere, with lots of practice, before you consider doing something like this.

    Now I hope you stick around here, after getting all the advice to help you, and show us some of your photos as well. Ausphotography is about INTERACTION, and we like members to both give and receive information.
    Last edited by ricktas; 26-10-2011 at 4:26pm.
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    I am gathering it will be in a function hall
    ummmmm, so you don't know where the function is yet, that would have been question 1 for me, then I would have been over there like a shot to have a look at what the conditions were likely to be.

    Just on Ricks suggestion, you are going to find that if it is quite dark using AV mode is going to produce very slow shutter speeds,
    This is where I would start if I were doing the job, 7D, ISO 800, 1/125 - 24-70 f2.8 Lens @ f5.6, 580EXII with Gary Fong diffuser bounced of the ceiling if possible (I know you only have a 430EX, but I would be looking for all the power I could from my flash) - I would take a few testers to see if my settings were producing acceptable exposure and then make any adjustments necessary.
    Last edited by MarkChap; 26-10-2011 at 4:39pm.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    My reply re Av mode was assuming that the thread starter knew how to set her camera to auto-flash to let it sync correctly for exposure. Assuming that Canon allows the flash to be part of the TTL system and the camera can automatically calculate and adjust flash output, as the Nikon's can
    Last edited by ricktas; 26-10-2011 at 4:52pm.

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    Got some photos to share ?

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    Thanks for your feedback. Greatly appreciated. Not a normal event organised situation - just helping out a friend at last minute. Will definitely stick around. Lots to learn and look forward to submitting some pics for feedback.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    My reply re Av mode was assuming that the thread starter knew how to set her camera to auto-flash to let it sync correctly for exposure. Assuming that Canon allows the flash to be part of the TTL system and the camera can automatically calculate and adjust flash output, as the Nikon's can
    Umm, short answer, no.
    The Canons have a function whereby you can set either a minimum or a constant shutter when in AV mode with flash attached, if this is turned off (or to normal) the meter will try to achieve an ambient light exposure and adjust the flash for fill.
    Last edited by MarkChap; 26-10-2011 at 5:32pm.

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    Probably better for a beginner to use (M)anual with the Canon. At least then it will "assume" the flash is the primary light source. MChap's settings would be a good start, but I might use 1/60th and up the ISO to increase the ambient. This would be a safe shooting mode.

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    Actually, I would definitely not suggest Manual in this situation and with the OP's stated level of experience, I would definitely choose a program mode.

    First set your ISO to around 800 as a suggestion. Put your camera on P mode. While bouncing the light off the ceiling might be an ok suggestion, its likely the ceiling would be a bit high if its in a function hall. Its likely that if that was the situation that the flash would then be too weak for it to have effect. So I would consider direct flash, but with the "wide panel" in place on the flash and if shooting horizontally just aim the head up on the first click of the flash head.

    Also have plenty of spare batteries as they will heat up under continued firing. I find that its better to be swapping them over with replacement sets, to allow them to cool a little, and having another couple of sets to use throughout the evening. Once one set has been given a chance to recover, I would use them again. Hope that makes sense.

    One other thought, and that is to get a small piece of white plastic (ice cream tubs are great for this), and cut a piece that about 4 times the size of the wide panel of your 430 flash. Then tape that to the top of your flash head. So that when the flash head is angled up, the shite plastic is bouncing the flash forward to the subject. Simple, cheap and very effective.
    Last edited by Longshots; 26-10-2011 at 7:23pm.
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    Yes, perhaps P-Mode might be better. Both would be better than Av for a beginner anyway, if it's going to be really dark.

    The OP should find this an interesting read, in particular the part about what each mode does when shooting with flash - how it meters:

    http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/#eosflash
    Last edited by camerasnoop; 26-10-2011 at 8:02pm.

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    In Training MarkChap's Avatar
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    Sorry William, P mode will still provide a shutter speed that is too low for reliable hand holding, If just used as an auto setting . Unless used in conjunction with auto ISO where the camera can adjust to suit as needed.

    The most reliable and controllable method to ensure a good hand holdable shutter speed, even for rank amateur is in manual and then let the flash pick up the slack.

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    It will depend I guess on the levels of ambient light at the time. Manual when P-Mode drops below about 1/60th. Of course by the time it does, you'd be shooting wide open with P-Mode. That could be a problem when taking group photos with greater DOF required. Manual will always try to adjust flash output to match your chosen exposure settings. This is specific to Canon EOS gear though. I think Nikon may be different, but I don't like to touch that stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkChap View Post
    Sorry William, P mode will still provide a shutter speed that is too low for reliable hand holding, If just used as an auto setting . Unless used in conjunction with auto ISO where the camera can adjust to suit as needed.

    The most reliable and controllable method to ensure a good hand holdable shutter speed, even for rank amateur is in manual and then let the flash pick up the slack.
    Umm Sorry, but I believe you may be incorrect.

    Put a Canon in P mode and stick a flash on it, select 800 iso(it doesnt need to be on auto iso) and turn the flash on and the camera automatically selects 60 as a shutter speed - it couldnt be simpler. At the expected level, even in a very darkened room, P mode will select around 3.5-4 and will with the flash turned on select 60th of a second. As the flash itself is going to give an additional " freeze" the shutter speed and hand holding concern is not going to be a huge concern. Plus in P Mode its quite easy to override the aperture selected by the camera, and to choose a higher aperture of f8 for instance, and thats when the flash will compensate with more power.

    They didnt call it P mode for nothing

    Try doing that right now. Because I assure you a) I did just the same on my last event shoot, and b) to ensure I dont have egg on my face, I've double checked with camera and flashgun right now - the only difference is that I'm doing this test with a 580EZX11


    Choosing Manual. Then you still going to select a shutter speed and you're going to have to select an aperture setting - suggesting that the flash will take up the slack at any setting means that you'd have to explain that the flash just wont always cope if for instance you happen to set the aperture at F11 an higher.
    Last edited by Longshots; 26-10-2011 at 8:58pm.

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    From the link I posted William:

    EOS flash photography confusion.
    The main area of confusion in EOS flash photography is the fact that P, Tv, Av and M modes handle flash illumination differently, especially when ambient light levels are not bright. Here’s a summary of how the modes basically work when you have a flash unit turned on. This summary assumes that you do not have high speed sync flash enabled if that option is available to your particular camera and flash unit combination.
    Mode Shutter speed Lens aperture
    P Automatically set from 1/60 sec to the camera’s maximum X-sync speed. Automatically set according to the camera’s built-in program.
    Tv You can set any shutter speed between 30 seconds and the camera’s maximum X-sync speed. Automatically set to match the shutter speed you have set.
    Av Automatically set between 30 seconds and the camera’s maximum X-sync speed to match the lens aperture you have set. You can set any lens aperture you like.
    M You can set any shutter speed between 30 seconds and the camera’s maximum X-sync speed. You can set any lens aperture you like.
    And here are the details:
    Program (P) mode flash.
    The overriding principle of Program (P) mode in flash photography is that the camera tries to set a high shutter speed so that you can hold your camera by hand and not rely on a tripod. If that means the background is dark, so be it.
    Program mode operates in one of two modes, depending on the ambient (existing) light levels.
    1) If ambient light levels are fairly bright (above 13 EV) then P mode assumes you want to fill-flash your foreground subject. It meters for ambient light and uses flash, usually at a low-power setting, to fill in the foreground.
    2) If ambient light levels are not bright (below 10 EV) then P mode assumes that you want to illuminate the foreground subject with the flash. It sets a shutter speed between 1/60 sec and the fastest X-sync speed (see above) your camera can attain. The aperture is determined by the camera’s built-in program.
    Because the camera tries to keep the shutter speed at a reasonable speed for handholding the camera you will end up with dark or black backgrounds if you take a flash photo in P mode when ambient light levels are not bright.
    On most if not all EOS cameras, P mode is not shiftable when flash (internal or shoe-mounted Speedlite) is used. Note also that DEP mode cannot work correctly with flash - its metering settings basically revert to P mode if you try it.


    Scrambled or sunny-side up?


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    Sorry Camerasnoop, I can only answer with what I know actually works. I'm not answering a debate about ambient light but how someone who asked the original question on how to get shots in a darkened room, with a backdrop. Flash is not an option here, its a definite need.

    I'm well aware of the manual thanks, the op wants some suggestions on how to obtain pictures.


    Have you actually tried what I'm suggesting ? I'm sitting in a room with one 40 watt light on, and at 800 iso, as expected, I can shoot at 60th of a second, with the flash on, and selecting an aperture, by using the command dial, of anything between F8 to 2.8 and I gain (easily) ambient light as well as the area additionally illuminated with the flash.

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    William, wow, thanks for that little bit of knowledge, I was so convinced that you were wrong, that I got out my 7D and put the flash on just to test it, guess what, you were right, my apologies for doubting

    In which case, go with Williams advice, use P mode

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    Actually Mark I was so amazed at finding this out, that for the first time in an almost decade, as opposed to choosing to shoot manually on Monday at a manic event in Brisbane (I was the only photographer to shoot the Governors luncheon, VIP guests and eventually the Queen (although I had to leave a minute before she arrived ! )- we're talking stress here in differing areas from very dark room to bright back lit rooms), I made a bold choice and selected P. For the very first time, I achieved something I'd never experienced before and that was utterly consistent flash output, and utterly consistent and manageable exposures.

    Can I remove the scrambled or sunny side eggs now ?
    Last edited by Longshots; 26-10-2011 at 9:20pm.

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    Yes, so the only difference between P mode and Manual is when P-mode changes between exposing for the background and exposing for the subject when the ambient light changes. In Manual you set your own exposure for the background or anything else you want. In theory the OP could shoot all night in either mode without encountering a problem. The results would only differ in the ambient exposure, and then only where the ambient light was good enough for 1/60th at your chosen aperture and ISO. Would you agree with that?
    Last edited by camerasnoop; 26-10-2011 at 9:41pm.

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    No

    I would agree with the informed, opinion, but not agree with that because you are assuming that the OP has a good understanding of manual exposure, and I mean both shutter speed and aperture, and how to use the capabilities of on camera flash. If you dont know that part, and know how the flash is going to work consistently in TTL, then thats not going to help.

    I can only tell you what actually works. I'm not relying on just reading the manual.I

    I thought the OP was looking for the best/easiest solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Longshots View Post
    you are assuming that the OP has a good understanding of manual exposure, and I mean both shutter speed and aperture, and how to use the capabilities of on camera flash.
    Well, no, I'm not. If the OP was to simply set their camera to 1/60th, F5.6, ISO800 all night, they would still get images with acceptably lit subjects in most instances. The camera would adjust flash output to suit. The OP would not really need to know anything about correct exposure for the background. In addition, they COULD go below 1/60th in shutter speed if they absolutely had to with Manual mode, but can't do that with P mode.

    Discussion of ambient light is also a must as part of this, as 2 out of the four modes P, AV, TV, and M expose only for ambient light and treat the flash as fill. Those are AV and TV. In addition P mode uses two methods, based on ambient light levels. The only one where ambient doesn't matter in the way the camera treats flash is Manual. However, P mode OR Manual mode would generally give acceptable if sometimes different results. On that we agree. On the rest? Well I guess we'll have to agree to disagree William. I can live with that.

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